Capitol Alert: FBI has been watching the Calderons for years

lrosenhall@sacbee.comNovember 1, 2013 

The elaborate FBI sting involving an undercover agent posing as a film studio owner who offered bribes to state Sen. Ron Calderon was not the first time the agency investigated the Montebello Democrat.

It was all the way back in 2007 that the FBI began looking into Calderon and his brothers, former assemblymen Tom Calderon and Charles Calderon, according to the affidavit made public this week by cable news network Al Jazeera America. The probe by a Los Angeles-based agent was based on information from the Fair Political Practices Commission and other sources, the affidavit says.

In part, the FBI was looking at $1 million payment Tom Calderon received after leaving the Assembly from Michael Drobot, who was then CEO of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach and had hired him as a consultant.

"It was suspected that this exceptionally large and unusual payment might evidence that Thomas Calderon was using his brothers' political influence to favor Drobot in return for monetary compensation, that is, a bribe," the affidavit says.

In 2008, the agent's investigation was added to an undercover investigation under way at the FBI's Sacramento field office, the document says, which involved two undercover agents posing as venture capitalists.

"The undercover FBI agents separately told Ronald Calderon and Thomas Calderon that they were interested in having legislation introduced in the California Senate that would be financially beneficial to their prospective investments," the affidavit says.

"Neither Ronald Calderon nor Thomas Calderon solicited or accepted a bribe in connection with their legislation."

The agent who posed as an LA film studio owner entered the picture some years later, after the FBI's Los Angeles branch launched an undercover investigation of two other public officials - not the Calderon brothers - in October 2011, the document says. It was in the course of that investigation that the fake studio owner met Ron Calderon.

A few months later, the affidavit says, the Los Angeles branch of the FBI added Ron Calderon as a subject of its undercover operation, and in December 2012 the Sacramento branch closed its investigation.

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